Distractions Galore for OSU’s Meyer
With training sessions and workouts scheduled to start in a matter of days and season’s kickoff little more than seven weeks away, Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer finds himself facing plenty of off-field distraction.
Ahead of his second season with the Buckeyes, Meyer found himself addressing a pair of controversial topics this past week, both of which have more than enough potential to ply the two-time National Championship coach’s attention away from matters at hand.
The first instance saw Meyer get in touch with the Columbus Dispatch with relation to the on-going Aaron Hernandez saga.
Hernandez – who played for Meyer at the University of Florida between 2007 and 2009 – was arrested at his home in North Attleborough, Mass., on June 26 and charged with murder in the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player.
The tight end – who was released by the New England Patriots on the morning of his arrest – is currently being held without bail at the Bristol County Jail awaiting trial. Subsequently, Hernandez is also being investigated in regards to a double murder that took place in Boston on July 16, 2012.
“Prayers and thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim,” Meyer texted. “Relating or blaming these serious charges to the University of Florida, myself or our staff is wrong and irresponsible.
“I just received an email from a friend where there is an accusation of multiple failed drug tests by Hernandez covered up by University of Florida or the coaching staff. This is absolutely not true. Hernandez was held to the same drug testing policy as every other player.
“He was an athlete at Florida 4 -7 yrs ago and there are some comments being made that are not correct,” Meyer’s text continued. “Our staff, myself and our families worked very hard to mentor and guide him.”
Meyer’s second distraction this week came in the wake of a Fox Sports’ report suggesting Meyer had turned the University of Florida in for an alleged improper “bump” violation.
The report alleged that Meyer had reported that Florida running backs coach Brian White had made illegal contact with Curtis Samuel, a running back out of Brooklyn Erasmus High School.
Meyer texted the Gainesville Sun to clear he matter up:
“It is absolutely not true that I turned in the University of Florida,” Meyer said in a text message. “Weeks after, I learned our compliance guy (without any coach involvement) forwarded an article to the conference office. This is standard procedure. Once again, zero coach involvement.”
According to ESPN, the Southeastern Conference had subsequently investigated the matter and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
Meyer is reportedly now away on a family vacation. Upon return he will begin the arduous task of leading his Buckeyes into the 2013 season, a task that would be best served without distraction.
Ohio State is currently considered the runaway favorite to win the Big Ten this year. Last year, the school recorded a 12-0 record, but NCAA sanctions meant the Buckeyes were not eligible for a conference championship or Bowl game. Had these sanctions not been in place, it is widely believed Ohio State would have met the Notre Dame Fighting Irish – who also finished the regular season undefeated – in the National Championship Game.
The Oregon Ducks are narrowly behind the Buckeyes and Aggies at 7/1.
Ohio State’s closest Big Ten rival is expected to be the Michigan Wolverines, who have been assigned 28/1 odds of winning the National Championship. The Nebraska Cornhuskers (50/1), Wisconsin Badgers (66/1), and Michigan State Spartans (100/1) fill out the conference’s top five.
Meyer is 116-23 (.835) all-time as a head coach. He is 3-1 in Bowl games and 2-0 in National Championship games, having led the Gators to the 2006 and 2008 titles.
In slightly more positive news, Meyer will join NFL commissioner Roger Goodell next month to host a safety clinic for mothers of youth football players.